Bhopal: After receiving complaints of lackadaisical approach in the probe of tiger deaths, Madhya Pradesh government is likely to order a CBI enquiry to investigate the alleged disappearance and poaching of striped cats from Panna Tiger Reserve.
Officials said Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has sought a detailed reply from the forest department after receiving complaints that a foreign syndicate and an organised gang were involved in the poaching of tigers.
"The Chief Minister`s Office has received a complaint (seeking CBI probe) and asked the forest department to give its reply," said Manoj Shrivastava, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister.
Earlier this month, the Madhya Pradesh government had declined to order a CBI probe and instead formed a committee to investigate the tiger deaths.
According to the information received in response to an RTI query, the then Additional Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh government MK Roy had recommended a CBI probe to look into poaching and disappearance of tigers from the sanctuary.
"There have been many cases of poaching and disappearance of tigers in the last 5-10 years from PTR.
"The state government wants the CBI to probe the conspiracy in the disappearance of tigers from the reserve and involvement of international smugglers in it. All such cases where challans have not been submitted should also be incorporated in it (probe)," Roy, who is now the Chairman of Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education, has said in his letter written in January last year.
After a year of inter-departmental deliberations, the Home Department had constituted a committee apparently rejecting the recommendations for a CBI probe made by the former top officer of the forest department.
"We have asked the Chief Minister to look into the matter. We are hopeful that a CBI enquiry will be ordered to probe tiger deaths," said wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who has accessed Roy`s letter through RTI.
As per the norms, the decision to constitute a CBI enquiry is taken by the Department of Personnel and Training, a Central nodal agency in Delhi, on the recommendation of a state Home Department.
According to a report by the Madhya Pradesh government, there was no tiger in Panna Reserve in the 2009 census carried out by the authorities there. The report, however, says that there were about 20 tigers in 2006.
About 19 cases of tiger poaching were noticed by authorities in the reserve over the last seven or eight years, the report had found. Currently, there are four tigers in the reserve which have been brought from other reserves.
Dubey claimed that there are instances of poaching and trafficking of tigers to various national and international destinations by well-established syndicates which need to be exposed and punished.
According to an RTI reply by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, as many as 337 tigers died in and outside various reserves of the country in the last decade due to poaching, infighting, accidents and old age among others.
Tiger population in the country was estimated to be 1,706 as per the 2010 data.